FLINT, Mich. (WJBK) - It was Family Fun Night at Freeman Elementary in Flint. Think face painting, balloons and blood tests - testing the children here for lead.
More than 300 people packed into the school, but not just for fun. These parents are worried about if their children have been exposed to lead in the city's water supply, a known neurotoxin responsible for irreversible brain damage.
"It is critical that all children get tested, get their lead level tested, and then talk with their doctor to see if there's anything they need to do to treat any symptoms that might be occurring from that," says Heidi McGlinnen from Molina Healthcare.
"We have a population-wide exposure. For 18 months, plus ongoing, our kids were exposed to lead-tainted water that they were told was safe to drink," says Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha from Hurley Medical Center. "When you know what it can do to children, it's just sad."
She's the pediatrician whose extensive testing in 2015 showed lead levels in Flint's children were twice - even three times - higher than they had been before switching over to Flint water in April of 2014.
"When we saw our numbers it was just jawdropping," she says. "But we weren't surprised because, based on what was happening with the water, [General Motors] stopped using this water in October of 2014 because it was corroding their parts. So, that should have been a huge red flag more than a year ago."
Instead, the state told Dr. Mona her numbers were wrong.
Now, she wants to see those responsible held accountable, but more importantly she wants action taken now across the board to help Flint's children.
"We hope that we can really throw everything at these kids and that we don't see these consequences. We have an obligation, a responsibility, to do that for these children. It's not their fault," she says. "In 2016, in the middle of the Great Lakes, we could not guarantee a population safe drinking water. It's something you hear about in third world countries. It's not something you hear about in the Great Lakes."
Gov. Rick Snyder has requested support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate an interagency recovery plan with other federal agencies to provide resources to Flint. He's also now issued an Executive Order activating the Michigan National Guard to assist with distributing supplies at the five water resource sites established in Flint. You can read more about that here.
Gov. Snyder is also expected to address the public health concern over the water in a press conference Wednesday afternoon in Detroit. Stay with FOX 2 for updates on that.